It was Maundy Thursday 13th April1995, when I got the call from dad: “Andy come quick Emma’s in hospital and fighting for her life.” The subsequent drive to Oxford along the M40 was a blur amidst the blazing sunshine bouncing off the tarmac.
The rest of the day felt like being on a film set, just waiting for the tap on the shoulder to say “cut” or to abruptly awake from a deep sleep; neither ever came. We left the hospital with the sun still blazing knowing that Emma had died, at the age of 25.
Fifteen years on, we are still learning to cope with Emma’s death, and always will be. Although April 13th 1995 marked the end of Emma’s life, it was also the beginning of our lives being inspired by hers.
Emma led a very full and caring life; she completed her nursing training at Great Ormond Street before moving back to the Oxford area. So when we lost Emma to meningitis the nursing world also lost one of their most caring professionals. Indeed caring for and helping other people were what Emma had liked to do most of all.
I too enjoy helping other people, although I don’t have Emma’s nursing skills. I do however believe that we are here on earth to help other people. Emma’s death has therefore given me the opportunity to help others by raising donations for MRF.
The Bupa London 10k therefore provided another opportunity to help raise further donations for MRF. (In 2008 I had completed the London Marathon running for MRF). As well as the challenge over a shorter distance I also wanted to help in another way by trying to raise awareness of the important work being carried out by the research teams of MRF.
To this end I decided to do some video log updates about how the training was progressing as well as the research work carried out by the Foundation. To date there are four video logs on YouTube, one of which includes the site visit to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. This was also a good opportunity to share experiences with other Members of MRF whose lives have been affected by meningitis.
The day of the 10k race was an enjoyable day for all of the family, as it also fell on the first day of the children’s half-term holiday. As a 10k race it also entailed a limited amount of time stood around waiting for dad to cross the finishing line. I was pleased with a time of 46 mins and 48 seconds, having started my Hal Higdon 10k programme with a 45 minute goal. And to date the donations for MRF are just above £700, so a huge thank you to everyone who has shown their support.
As for what’s next, I am looking at some half marathons for the autumn time to see if I can carry over the 10k training to the longer distance, and then, if all goes well, perhaps a marathon next year.
Through Emma I’ll always keep the connection with MRF and will try to help them by raising both donations and awareness whenever I can.
The important work of the Foundation in tackling meningitis was brought home to me by the sad news of the death of the South African tenor, Siphiwo Ntshebe who was chosen by Nelson Mandela to sing at the World Cup. My thoughts are with his family and friends.